Evidence for the Endocannabinoid System as a Therapeutic Target in the Treatment of Cannabis Use Disorder
Purpose of review: Cannabis use disorder (CUD) is highly prevalent. Psychotherapy alone is not adequately effective, with few individuals achieving abstinence. Pharmacotherapeutic supplementation may improve efficacy, and the endocannabinoid system presents a target specifically dysregulated by heavy cannabis use. This review compiles current literature evaluating endocannabinoid modulation as a treatment strategy for CUD, with implications for future research.
Recent findings: Cannabinoid receptor agonists have been found to reduce cannabis withdrawal symptoms without a notable effect on relapse, and antagonists can produce severe psychiatric symptoms. Fatty acid amide hydrolase inhibitors and cannabidiol demonstrate the most promising efficacy in treating CUD thus far, but research with these compounds is still preliminary.
Summary: Components of the endocannabinoid system may serve as unique treatment targets with differential efficacy for the treatment of cannabis use disorder as a whole. Further research is needed exploring novel methods for targeting endocannabinoid dysfunction in CUD.
Keywords: Cannabidiol; Cannabis Use Disorder; Dronabinol; Endocannabinoid System; FAAH; Nabiximols.